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Norwood Park’s Jack Suwinski Plays First Major League Games With Pittsburgh Pirates

Suwinski, 23, was born, raised and educated in Norwood Park. He's now starting in right field for the Pittsburgh Pirates: "I want to represent my neighborhood and the people who helped me get there.”

The Suwinskis of Norwood Park
Courtesy of Ann Suwinski
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NORWOOD PARK — The Suwinskis of Norwood Park have their routine.

Tim Suwinski finishes his carpenter job, goes for a mile-long swim, comes home and watches his son Jack play minor league baseball on TV.

On April 26, Jack Suwinski called his dad to tell him their usual plans had changed: He was called up to the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

“I wasn’t even sure how to tell him,” Suwinski said. “But I did, and he just started going on and on. Asking all these questions. Just all excitement and nerves.” 

Needless to say, Tim Suwinski didn’t have time for the pool. 

“Jack said, ‘Dad, I’m not playing in that game tonight.’ And at first I was worried,” Tim Suwinski said. “He just said, ‘I’m going to Pittsburgh.’” 

Suwinski left his Altoona Curve minor league teammates and took a rental car to PNC Park to start in right field.

Tim Suwinski called all of his son’s former coaches and searched for flights. 

“All of it kind of seems surreal, it just happened so fast,” Jack Suwinski said. “Next thing we’re all here, and I played each game in that first series. 

“I want to represent my neighborhood and the people who helped me get there.” 

Suwinski, a former standout at Taft High School, collected his first hit during that first major league game against the Brewers. On Sunday, the 23-year-old got two hits and scored a run

“We’re walking on cloud nine,” said mom Ann Suwinski. “Everyone is just so excited something big came out of Norwood Park.”

The proud parents have been in the stands. 

“I saw him in right field for the Pirates, and the whole journey just flashed in front of me,” Tim Suwinski said. “To him being 6 years old, playing Norwood Park District baseball, travel ball, high school ball, being drafted, minor leagues — it was like playing back a movie.” 

Credit: Courtesy of Pittsburgh Pirates
Jack Suwinski started out in tee-ball at Norwood Park District, starred at Taft High School and is now playing right field for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Jack Suwinski said he credits much of his path to the big leagues to his parents.

“Honestly, it’s unconditional love and support my parents have had for this dream that I’ve had for the longest time,” Jack Suwinksi said. “I’m really grateful to have grown up the way I did.”

Jack Suwinski was born and raised in Norwood Park. He said he remembers “doing career day in second grade at Norwood Park Elementary as a baseball player.” 

Tim Suwinski said he tried to get his son into his sport — swimming — but Jack Suwinski was always all about baseball. The Suwinskis drove their son to more than 70 games, from Norwood Park District to travel ball, during the summer he turned 10. 

“He dragged me and mom, always changing jerseys in the car,” Tim Suwinski said. “Jack brought himself to those games. Mom and Dad drove, we helped. But we can’t catch the ball and run the bases. He never asked for anything, and it was all him.”

Tim and Ann Suwinski committed themselves to supporting their son’s dream. 

“There were hundreds of games that were freezing cold, and we were there watching it,” Ann Suwinski said. “Around the baseball field, there was a parking lot, and I’d stay out as long as I could handle it, and then I’d go watch from the car.”

The Suwinski’s of Norwood Park

By the end of Suwinski’s sophomore year at Taft, the right fielder had dozens of professional scouts scoping him out. The Suwinskis scrounged what they could to send their son to showcases around the country. 

“We were tight on money, and I was a carpenter, but I said, ‘Go,’” Tim Suwinski said. “We clipped coupons in the paper, stopped buying stuff for a bit. You make it work.” 

Soon enough, the San Diego Padres were in the Suwinskis’ Norwood Park living room. They picked Suwinski in the 15th round of the 2016 Major League Baseball draft. 

With “the neighbors peeking through the blinds,” Tim Suwinski said, the Padres offered his son a handsome professional contract. Jack Suwinski said he was at a loss for words.

“There’s a lot of thoughts going through your head when you’re 17 getting that kind of offer,” Jack Suwinski said. “I was fortunate to have people around me, guiding me.” 

Suwinski turned to his parents. 

“He kinda looked at me and said, ‘What do I do, Dad?’” Tim Suwinski said. “I told him, ‘You’re getting drafted. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I can’t step on the field unless I’m a groundskeeper.’” 

Suwinski skipped college and started climbing the ranks of minor league baseball. Tim Suwinski made sure his TV in Norwood Park was always tuned in around 5:35 p.m. 

“He went from being a kid to becoming a true man,” Tim Suwinski said. “There was nobody there to make your breakfast or blow your nose. Jack was never like that, but he was still our boy.”

Last week, Jack Suwinski took his first steps into the batter’s box at a big league ballpark. 

“I thought it felt pretty good,” Suwinski said. “You think about it so long, you realize you’re meant to be here. All of a sudden it comes to fruition; next thing you know, you’re in the box.” 

Credit: Courtesy of Pittsburgh Pirates
Jack Suwinski steps into the batter’s box for one of his first big league at-bats against the Brewers.

The vets have reminded Suwinski to “take a deep breath and just do my thing,” he said. 

“Being day-to-day with the team keeps me in the moment,” Suwinski said. “And knowing my parents are here with me, that’s one of the best feelings about it.” 

At Friday’s game in PNC Park, Tim Suwinski celebrated his 65th birthday by watching his son live out his childhood dream. 

“We got a picture of him rolling a baseball between his legs in Norwood Park, when he was 6 years old,” Tim Suwinski said. “Now, it’s the big show.”

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